Walter Jones gives thanks where it was due

Posted Aug 2, 2014

Many expected as close to the silent treatment as he could get when Walter Jones made his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech on Saturday night. But the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle got the last word, and last laugh.

CANTON, Ohio – It’s official, Walter Jones can say more than five words at a time and even talk beyond the 10-minute time limit that the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees are supposed to adhere to.

The proof came Saturday night during Jones’ acceptance speech in the nationally-televised ceremony at Fawcett Stadium.

On a night when fellow inductees Aeneas Williams (25 minutes) and Derrick Brooks (24 minutes) not only exceeded the time limit, but more than doubled it, Jones went 17½ minutes – a marathon of chattiness for a player who spoke more with actions than his words during a 13-season career with the Seahawks.

But Jones said what was needed. The second-youngest of eight kids, he started by thanking his family; moved on to those who helped start his career at Aliceville (Ala.) High School; added those who molded his career at Holmes Community College, Florida State and with the Seahawks; and finished with special thanks to those who helped make his career so memorable.

After being presented by his 14-year-old son, Walterius, who also helped him remove the hood from his bust that will be enshrined in the Hall of eternity, Jones began with a fitting, “Wow.”

He later added, “Football has been a blessing. It has changed my life and those around me.”

Jones thanked his mother, Earline; and his kids, Walterius and his twin sister, Waleria. He told his mother that she was “the real Hall of Famer.” He had promised to give a shout out to Waleria, who he called “my beautiful daughter” and then offered, “Everyone watching tonight, go follow my daughter on Instagram.”

He then moved on to his siblings, former coaches and teammates and the Seahawks’ 12th Man fans.

“What a wonderful group of fans,” he said. “I truly loved playing for you all. … You complete the organization.”

Jones even gave a good-natured shout out to the Seattle media who covered his career, which included being voted to a club-record nine Pro Bowls, six All-Pro berths and a spot on the NFL Team of the Decade for the 2000s. His No. 71 already has been retired and this season his name will be added to the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor at CenturyLink Field.

“To the Seattle media, thank you,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every interview. Seriously. You were always fair to me and appreciate the role of what we do.”

To’s Mike Sando, who presented Jones at the selection committee meeting the day before the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII in February, Jones said, “Thank you Mike Sando for presenting me to the Hall of Fame. Although I didn’t need any help.”

With that, Jones laughed – one of many light moments on his night of nights.

Jones had said he planned to have fun with his speech, while thanking those who needed to be thanked, and he accomplished both goals.

But he still couldn’t elude the comments on how little he had talked though the years.

In his video-taped presentation, Walterius said, “He didn’t spend time telling people he was the best. He just spent his time working hard and doing what he needed to do give his team some W’s, and I think that’s what people like about him.”

During the commercial break before Walterius presented his father, Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent offered, “When I first met Walter when (the Seahawks) went to the Super Bowl in 2006, I could hardly get him to speak a word. … He’s definitely a quiet-type person. But seeing him here at the Hall of Fame, he’s loosened up a little bit and he’s a very fun, very smart, very affable guy.”

Tom Lovat, one of the line coaches Jones played for with the Seahawks, said last week that he wouldn’t miss attending the ceremony because, “I want to see Walt say more than five words.”

In the end, however, it was Jones who got the last word and the last laugh.

“Football is a bond that keeps a family together, and provided opportunities where there was just inspiration and determination,” he said. “The thing I’ve learned along this incredible journey, I’m only cheering for the rest of my life but pass it along to anyone that loves the game.”